Friday, November 14, 2008

Festive Pumpkin Soups

11/12/08 Cook’s Corner
Betty Kaiser

Now that cold weather has arrived, it’s time to bring out the soup pot. A nice hot, homemade bowl of soup with a crisp green salad and a yummy dinner roll is a perfect simple supper.

Today I’m breaking out of my soup comfort zone and venturing into new territory. I tend to get into a rut with my tomato-based meat and vegetable soup combinations. It’s time to think outside of my traditional box and consider other options. The following recipes can a first course at holiday meals or make a nice lunch.

Traditional pumpkin and squash soups have never been my favorites. I’m really not into spicy squash-type concoctions flavored with peppers, bacon or sausage. Sweet is more my style. So I’ve been researching my options to come up with a pumpkin soup that isn’t too peppery, thick or glutinous but has exceptional flavor.

Another thing holding me back with pumpkin soups is this whole business of pureeing the mixture. Transferring the hot product to a blender and back into the pot is messy and dangerous. I discovered a simpler way — use a handheld blender directly in the cooking pot.

Today’s first recipe is a very festive appearing pumpkin soup with fresh cranberries. It can be prepared a day in advance. Topped with sour cream, yogurt or crème frèche, it will tantalize your taste buds.

The second recipe is a traditional cream-like soup. Get creative and forego the thyme for curry or pumpkin pie spice. Warning: both of these soups may need more salt. They absorb flavors.

The final recipe for cream of wild rice soup can easily become a main dish with the addition of diced ham, turkey or sausage. Enjoy!

“Bon Appétit” (original source)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups peeled, cored and diced tart green apples
1/2 cup cranberries
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped carrot
3-4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Dash ground cinnamon
Dash ground nutmeg
2 1/2 cups water
2 cups (or more) cranberry juice

1/2 cup cranberries
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar

1 tablespoon honey
1 c light sour cream

Heat olive oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-low heat. next 5 ingredients and cook until onion is tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Mix in pumpkin and spices. Add water and 2 cups cranberry juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until vegetables are very tender, stirring occasionally, approximately 20 minutes.

Meanwhile cook cranberries, water and sugar in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until cranberries pop, about 4 minutes.

Transfer soup to blender or food processor and puree. If not completely smooth, work through fine strainer set over bowl. Add more cranberry juice if thinner consistency is desired. Stir in honey. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls. Dollop with 1 tablespoon sour cream on each bowl. Top with cranberries and serve 4 generously.

Note: If prepared in advance, cool; cover soup and cranberries separately and chill. Reheat before serving.

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

4 cups pumpkin puree
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup whole milk or heavy cream
5 whole black peppercorns
Fresh parsley

Heat stock, pumpkin, salt, onion, thyme, garlic, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes uncovered. Remove peppercorns. Puree the soup in small batches (1 cup at a time) using a food processor or blender. Return to pan, and bring to a boil again. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 30 minutes, uncovered. Stir in heavy cream. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with fresh parsley. Serves 6-8

Cream of Wild Rice Soup
“Taste of Home's Holiday and Celebrations Cookbook 2005”

1 package (6.2 ounces) long grain and wild rice mix
1 cup chopped onion
4-1/2 teaspoons butter
4-1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
Pinch white pepper
3 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) chicken broth
2 cups whole milk or cream
1/2 cup white wine or additional chicken broth

Prepare rice mix according to package directions, using part chicken broth for liquid. In a large saucepan, sauté onion in butter until tender.
Stir in the flour, poultry seasoning and pepper until blended. Gradually stir in the broth, cream, wine or additional broth and cooked rice. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Serves 10 (2-1/2 quarts)

Keep it simple and keep it seasonal! 
Betty Kaiser’s Cook’s Corner is dedicated to sharing a variety of recipes
that are delicious, family oriented and easy to prepare.

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